There have been several things that I thought about covering recently, but none of them really seemed to be enough to dedicate a whole article to, so therefore we have the News and Updates for July! Here’s a few things that have happened recently in the U. S. Parks.
The exclusive club in New Orleans Square has started it’s re-opening after several months of construction. Official opening is July 18th. Apparently when they opened up the walls to start the expansion, they did find some mold, so the work load increased, but they were still able to stick very close to the construction schedule. The complaining has already started about the lack of access and views to the “Court of Angels” with a large stained glass window covering the gate that used to allow any visitor into the area. Discussion about the loss of that area can be found in an article that I published earlier here.
News is that the interior is very nice, and the food has been updated and is also significantly better. Andrew Stanton has taken over as head chef, and is also the head chef at Carthay Circle Restaurant and Napa Rose, some of the nicest, if not the nicest restaurants on Disneyland property. Also, there have been changes to the reservation system so that the member themselves must be present for the reservation, and for now, they are limited to only one guest. That will change over time, but they are doing it to limit the number of people that can actually get in. Previously, the member could make reservations for whomever they wanted, and would not have to be present for the reservation, so it would allow many friends, and friends of friends, to access the club. There will be new rules for the reservation process, but those details will come over time, and frankly, I am not worried about it. I’m pretty sure I’ll never get in.
Legends of Frontierland – Gold Rush!
A new interactive experience has started in Frontierland. Some bloggers were part of a play testing that was very, very, similar to this earlier in the year, so no one is really surprised by this addition to the area. Guests will become part of an ongoing story based around rumors of gold found in the area. Guests are able to create a character, including a choice of several occupations and names, then have to decide what side they want to be on. They can choose to be one of the “Peaceful citizens of Frontierland” or one of the “Opportunistic Rainbow Ridge Townsfolk.”
Areas have been set up as a Trading Post, Hideout, Telegraph Station, Sheriff’s Office and Jail, Talent Agency and Card Table. You earn “Bits”, the currency of the game, but performing tasks, and can spend them on land purchases, and to get information for missions within the game.
I am hearing that the game needs some refining, and hopefully it will get better and missions become clearer over time. I also hear that there is room to expand the game further out into the land. As an infrequent guest to Disneyland, I don’t see myself having the time needed to get fully immersed in the game itself. I would not want to spend several hours playing at the expense of seeing other attractions in the park on my relatively short trips. However, I realize that much of Disneyland’s crowd base is annual pass holders, so I can see the value in the experience for those who are looking for something new or different, and don’t necessarily care if they ride any attractions or not as they are in the parks on a regular basis. You can see the official park blog post about it here.
Alice in Wonderland Dark Ride Re-Opening
One of the most beloved dark rides in Disneyland is finally open again after a refurbishment. Safety concerns were brought to the attention of Disney when a worker slipped on the tracks in 2010. California OSHA required Disney to install rails on the 2nd level outdoor tracks. There were temporary rails in place for quite some time, but Disney took the opportunity recently to re-theme the rails to match the exterior of the ride.
Not only did Disney do the needed work to comply with the safety requirements, but with the ride down, they also added effects and figures to the attraction. Several new Alice figures were placed in the ride along with several spots that now have upgraded effects including several new projections that are placed thorough the attraction. Feedback has been very positive. The exterior looks great, and the additions of the new effects really seem to enhance the experience without taking away from the attractions original look at feel. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the ride, it is truly one of the most unique dark ride experiences on either coast. The reason being that the ride is set on two levels, an upper and lower level, and goes in and out of the show building during the second half of the ride. Ricky Brigante has complete coverage of the makeover with a full ride through video, and his article can be found here.
Walt Disney World:
Monorail Loses Power – Causes Train Evacuation
On Sunday, July 13th, there was a possible lighting strike somewhere on or near a Monorail train or track. Reports now indicate that lighting did not hit the train itself, although some riders are claiming it did. Disney is not confirming either way, simply saying that it was a weather related incident.
Regardless if it was caused by the lighting or not, somehow the weather caused Monorail to lose power completely forcing the Reedy Creek Fire department to assist with the evacuation of over 120 passengers. The cars were apparently getting hot and sticky, with the lack of power to run the air conditioner. Some guests were reported to have been evacuated by using the safety hatch in the top of the train, and walking across the tops of the cars while connected to a safety line.
No injuries were reported, and the evacuation was complete by about 8pm. (Less than 2 hours from when the incident occurred). They did try to re-start the train for about 30 minutes before evacuating it, but were not successful. The train was stranded between the Wilderness Lodge area and the Transpiration and Ticket center. Guests were compensated with a free Mickey Ice Cream, 2 Mine Tran fastpasses, and one other open fastpass for any other attraction.
Man loses two finger tips on Pirates of the Caribbean
When I originally heard about this report, on Thursday the 10th of July, it was reported that it was a child. Many were outraged immediately without knowing the full situation, just based on the premise that no child should never be able to be injured on any Disney ride.
Well, it was not a child, but a British man who lost the tips of his ring and pinky fingers and was taken to the hospital. The ride was shut down for at least 5 hours while the incident was investigated, ride deemed safe, and attraction re-opened on the same day. Disney officials are not commenting on what happened, but apparently, at least from unofficial Disney World Sources, the man had his hand outside the boat during the drop on the ride. Clearly, we all wish this man the best, and we know that it could have been a lot worse. However, when people are injured on attractions because they refuse to follow the safety instructions that are overly clear, I somehow don’t feel as bad for them.
Obviously this reminds us all of two things – A. – Always follow the safety instructions to keep your hands, arms, and legs, and anything else inside the boat or vehicle or whatever at all times; and B. – Avoid contact with ride water at all costs! You really think they shut that thing down and drained it? Not to mention all the other things that end up in there like hydraulic fluid, garbage, now bodily fluid and who knows what else.
Frozen Summer at DHS; will they build an attraction?
Promoted as “Visiting Royalty”, Disney Hollywood Studios has a special Frozen event running through the very beginning of September. “Frozen Summer Fun Live! At Disney’s Hollywood Studios” is drawing huge crowds. Anna and Elsa are there daily now with events going on all day long. Starting at 11am with a parade down Hollywood Boulevard. The parade includes several of your favorite characters from the movie, including the first look at the Kristoff face character, and groups of skiers, skaters, and ice cutters. Tons of excellent photos from the event are available (again) on Ricky Brigante’s site here.
Other special events include a Frozen sing-a-long – a 20 minute storytelling and sing along celebration inside the Premier Theatre. “Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post and Frozen Funland” at Soundstage 1 where guests can purchase merchandise as well as have the opportunity to build a snowman, view ice sculptures or even skate on an ice rink. Professional skaters are also on hand demonstrating their moves daily. Later in the evening, you have the obligatory dance party in front of the giant hat culminating in the Frozen Fireworks Spectacular with songs from the film and projections on the hat all a part of the evening show.
Special food and beverages are also available during the event, from new drinks with frozen themes, special cookies, snow ball inspired cake pops, and as always cupcakes. The events are mostly free, however, you can purchase special VIP passes to the events. VIP Passes allow for refreshements and reserved viewing at the morning parade, reserved seating for the sing along show, and an “exlusive” dessert party during the dance party with reserved viewing for the fireworks. VIP Prices are $59 for adults and $34 for children.
Frozen’s Impact on the Parks
While there is a lot of additional offerings at DHS regarding Frozen, there is no actual character meet and greet. For that you will still have to brave the crowds over at the Magic Kingdom. However, the last I heard was that Anna and Elsa are greeting separately now. They are still in the same room, just on opposite sides of the room. This has allowed for increased guest flow, and has cut down the long waits from their incredibly ridiculous times, to just ridiculous times.
Initially, there was a lot of talk about converting the Maelstrom in Epcot to a Frozen ride. A lot of that chatter has started to subside, but the possibility is still there. Word now is that executives (read: bean counters) want to make sure that the film is going to maintain its popularity in the long term. Disney is walking a fine line between trying to make sure that attractions take advantage of current intellectual properties popularity, while at the same time making sure they don’t rush to build a ride based on a property that will no longer be relevant 5-10 years from now. For example: 1. The Little Mermaid ride was built almost 20 years after the film, and some may argue that it was too long to wait. 2 Gadget’s Go Coaster is still in Toontown in Disneyland, but I will guarantee you that most children (and for that matter, most adults) that ride that attraction have no idea who Gadget Hackwrench is.
Another thing that the Disney organization has to take into consideration is the money generated by a new Frozen attraction. If the movie is going to maintain popularity, and continue to generate profits for the company, would they be better off doing a quick and cheap overlay of an existing attraction such as Maelstrom or should they go ahead and shell out the money to build an all new, and innovative, attraction somewhere else in some other park where it may fit in better? It’s a hard decision to make, luckily my job is not based on making that decision correctly.
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